Summary: The insults, tauntings and cruelty the soldiers inflicted on Jesus makes many angry. It also hurts us when people in our own day attack Jesus. How should we respond to those who insult and mistreat our Jesus?
OPEN: (TRUE STORY) A detective, was investigating a church burglary. But he had a problem: the suspect (who he just knew had committed the crime) wouldn’t admit to it.
Finally, the preacher of the church stepped in and asked to speak to the suspect alone. Within minutes, the preacher emerged and gave the detective the name of the pawnshop where the stolen items could be found.
The detective was amazed. “How did you do that?” he asked.
“I told him you could send him to jail,” the preacher replied, “but I could send him to hell.”
APPLY: I have noticed that people behave differently - depending upon who they think they are in the presence of. That burglar felt he could get away with bluffing a police detective… but when he felt he was in the presence of a representative of an all seeing God, he changed his tune quickly..
I. I can’t help but think (if the Roman soldiers of that day had realized who they actually had in custody) they would have treated Jesus a whole lot more respectfully than they did.
But they had no idea who Jesus was.
They had no idea that they had the Son of God in their hands.
They had no idea that if Jesus had wanted to they’d have all been dead on the ground long before they uttered their first insult …or struck their 1st blow.
But – they didn’t know.
They didn’t a clue as to who they have in their presence…
So they behaved like they ordinarily would with any prisoner. Especially a Jewish prisoner. Particularly a Jewish prisoner who had the audacity to claim to be a king.
Notice the cruelty and the inhuman behavior they exhibit.
· They put a Purple robe on his scarred back
· Push down a sharp-spined crown of thorns upon his head
· Spit on Him
· Mock Him
· Strike Him on his head with a staff
· And then, they fall down on their knees in mock humility pretending to pay Him homage “Hail King of the Jews”
This is great fun for them. In fact, one gets the impression that ALL prisoners bound for death on the cross got a similar treatment… depending upon who they are and what they’ve done.
It could be argued that these Romans soldiers were just entertaining themselves. They were in (what was to them) a boring and back-water culture filled with bickering and unpleasant Jews who always seemed to be on the edge of riot and rebellion.
Being a Roman soldier in Israel was not a great career choice and these soldiers were bored. There was nothing on TV… and so guys like Jesus seemed easy prey.
That’s helps to explain much of what these soldiers did that day:
Mark 15:16 "The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace… and called together the whole company of soldiers."
These men were not satisfied by merely mistreating Jesus. They had to call all their friends in to join in the fun. But even after all that fun - Jesus eventually got boring for them.
– I mean, all He did was stand there… silent,
– Unresponsive to their insults and taunts
– Quiet… like a lamb being led off to slaughter
Picking on Jesus got old after a while and they needed some fresh blood to satisfy their cruelty.
So in Mark 15:21 we’re told: "A certain man from Cyrene, Simon… was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross."
Simon, being from Cyrene, was most likely a black man and he would have stood out in the crowd. Thus he became their next mark for their brutality.
Then when Christ is nailed to the wood, and the cross is lifted up and dropped into place, His body strained against the nails, their sharp unforgiving metal tearing at his flesh. You can almost see Him as pushed Himself up using the nail that pinned his feet to the cross for leverage, struggling for breath, suffering an anguish no man should ever feel.
It’s in the midst of this pain and agony that we read that the soldiers
“… took his garments, and divided them into four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat: now the coat was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom.
They said to each other ’Let’s not tear it, but cast lots for it, to determine whose it shall be.’ (This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled which said, ’They divided my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing’). These things therefore the soldiers did..." John 19:23-24
They didn’t even wait for Jesus to die. They were so bored, they threw dice to see who would get the only worldly goods Jesus still possessed.